Monday, June 29, 2009

Island Nation to Produce 5X its Energy Needs with Geothermal Energy

The tiny two island Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis recently discovered several large geothermal reservoirs that will allow it to produce an estimated 50 megawatts (MW) of clean energy. With a need of only 10MW, Saint Kitts and Nevis is poised to become one of the most carbon-neutral nations in the world.

In addition to becoming virtually carbon-neutral, Saint Kitts and Nevis plans to export the excess geothermal energy it produces. This economic boost, combined with the construction of a new 2,500 acre beach resort on Saint Kitts has made the small 40,000 person nation hopeful for a greatly improved future and higher quality of life.

Formal exploration for geothermal resources began in 2007 after the government granted the West Indies Power Company the right to drill and develop facilities (this explains the recent "discovery"). Construction on the first plant, known as the Spring Hill facility, began earlier this year. It will initially produce 10 MW of electrical power using two turbines. It is hoped that the plant will be operational by this time next year, and that the facility can be upgraded soon to expand its capacity by an estimated 40 MW. What's amazing is that this 50MW is only a portion of the geothermal potential thought to exist on Nevis. It's generally agreed by experts that above 200 MW could eventually be produced.

The project is gaining support throughout the region. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) recently provided a $38,000 grant to aid with technical assistance on the geothermal project, with the goal of helping to develop alternative energy resources that mitigate climate change effects. The World Bank has also shown interest in the project's importance to the region.
Geothermal makes a lot of sense for the Caribbean islands with their high levels of volcanic activity and high costs for importing energy.

I spent a couple of months on St. Kitts and quite enjoyed myself (minus one unfortunate crustacean manslaughter incident). Glad to see that they are getting in the news for something other than alcoholic monkeys.

via celsias

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